Happy Holidays! Our Dec. 2015 Bulletin is inside!
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'Tis the Season… to Unleash Your Inner Child

Baby, it's cold outside—like a cool 60s. Yes, we're in Miami so we don't get to experience the traditional winter weather, but that won't stop us from pulling out the peacoat and boots.

When I was younger, I would spend winter breaks in New York City—which, as you can imagine, was as classic of a Christmas break as you can get. I remember making sure I went to sleep at an appropriate time so that I could get up at 7 o' clock on the dot. I'd slowly open my eyes, peer over to my sister sleeping beside me, and the overwhelming thought would take over my mind: It's Christmas!

I'd tiptoe to my sister and shake her gently. "It's Christmas!" She'd stumble out of bed, rub her eyes, and then—at once—she'd snap out of it and we'd race down to the tree in whichever family member's home we were staying in that year.

Few moments can take me, or anyone, from the realities of adulthood back to that childhood innocence. But December is a chance for a month-long feeling of belonging, home, and warmth… even in the cooler weather. No matter the gifts you give or receive, the family you're forced to reunite with, or the struggles we face that don't exactly go away during this time of year, even cynics like me have to admit that the holiday cheer is infectious.

According to Mental Health America, creating joy and satisfaction can lead to a positive increase in wellness. What better time to create joy than the most joyous time of the year?

From all of us at The Youth & Family Center, Youth MOVE Miami, and Federation of Families Miami-Dade Chapter, we want to wish all of our partners and participants a very happy holidays to you and yours. 'Tis the season!
Interesting Stories from November
  • Macklemore and Ryan Lewis debuted a song about mental health and addiction. "Kevin" featuring Leon Bridges was first performed during the American Music Awards and also touches upon the overprescription of medicine. It is an homage to a young man close to Macklemore and Lewis who passed away at the age of 21 by overdose. Macklemore has been vocal about his substance abuse. Earlier this year he told Complex magazine, "The minute that I start actively seeking recovery—not just sobriety, but recovery—music is there."
  • Missy Elliott has opened up about her anxiety disorder. In a cover story for Billboard, the rapper disclosed that the night before her Super Bowl Halftime Show this year, she had a panic attack and ended up connected to an IV. She says that she has also never let anyone watch her as she records a track.
  • New York unveiled a $850 million mental health plan. The money will be used to launch ThriveNYC, a program first announced in January by New York's first lady Chirlane McCray. The initiative is organized around six principles: Change the culture; act early; close treatment gaps; partner with communities; use data better; and strengthen government’s ability to lead.
  • How people treat mental health vs. how they treat physical illness. I've been wanting to share this quick BuzzFeed article about the ways in which people respond to mental illness as opposed to a physical illness for a while now, which I think many of you will find humorous—and, sadly, true.
Coming Up in December
  • Hip Hop Dance Classes and Latin Heat Workout continue every Thursday throughout December except for Christmas Eve and New Year's Eve.
  • Urban Arts and Art Class with The Motivational Edge will also continue Mondays, Tuesdays, and Wednesdays.
  • We'll be providing our first Digital Media Storytelling Workshop on Monday and Tuesday, Dec. 21 and 22. Participants will explore their personal stories and learn how to record, capture, and edit these stories to share.
Plus more! Make sure to click below on the calendar to enlarge it!
What We Did Last Month

Federation of Families wins Organization of the Year!

Federation of Families Miami-Dade Chapter attended the Federation of Families for Children's Mental Health Conference 2015. We learned tons of valuable information from organizations nationwide and connected with people doing amazing work. But nothing quite beats winning the RockStar Organization of the Year award! The honor is awarded to organizations who support youth-guided programs. Thank you to the Youth M.O.V.E. National board of directors; we hope to continue our efforts in sustaining programs by young people for young people!
Thank You for Your Support on Give Miami Day

On Thursday, Nov. 19, we asked for your support in raising funds to sustain our efforts to support youth, young adults, and families with mental health and substance abuse issues. And you delivered. We're proud to say we had a successful Give Miami Day—and we even exceeded our goal! Thank you for your support.
We Hosted Friendsgiving

Last week, the Youth & Family Center hosted its first-ever Friendsgiving with staff, volunteers, and participants. For those who don't know, Friendsgiving is defined as Thanksgiving dinner with friends, usually reserved for right before or right after actual Thanksgiving Day.

We all had a quaint afternoon connecting to all of those who value the Center. But, let's be honest, we mainly enjoyed the traditional Thanksgiving food, like stuffing, ham, and—of course, the turkey!

Jackie Enjoys Being Able to Be Creative and Serve

This is a recurring feature of our bulletin where we feature staff and volunteers. This month, we're highlight our activities coordinator, Jacqueline Olivas-Sison.

Tell me a little bit about your role and what you do.

I'm the activities coordinator, so I coordinate activities at the Youth & Family Center. I'm also the assistant to the Operations and Program Manager. That entails reporting—lot's of reporting!

How did you get started in the mental health industry?

I started at Federation of Families! This is my first role in the mental health industry. It really appealed to me that we were helping young adults and transitioning age adults. That was really appealing to me because I like young people; I'm young myself. I love nonprofit work and helping. In this industry, you get to be creative and serve people. I truly like that.

What would you say is your proudest accomplishment as the activities coordinator.

Hm… I have so many. [Laughs.] One of my proudest accomplishments has been having a health fair at my old high school because I was able to give resources to students there that we didn't have when I was a student there. It was very fun. It was very nice to give back to my school.

What would you say is your biggest struggle in this work?

I would say just getting people to come to our activities. That's a struggle because it's hard; we have a lot of competition.

What is your favorite show at the moment?

Jane the Virgin! I love Jane. The grandma reminds me of my grandma.

What song can you not stop playing this week?

That song! What's that song—"like a small boat in the ocean"? How does it go? "This is my fight song!" Yeah, I like that song. [Editor's note: It's "Fight Song" by Rachel Platten.]

What's your favorite part of the holidays?

The gifts, of course. No, I'm kidding! Actually… giving gifts. I like giving gifts. That's why I started shopping for Christmas in October.
What Are You Looking Forward to This Holiday?
"Money! Just kidding. Kind of. I'm looking forward to seeing my cousin who lives in Tampa. She was diagnosed with something intensive, but is doing better." —Angie, Peer Specialist

"I'm looking forward to some deserved time off!" —Liz, Programs & Operations Manager

"Food. I love the food from Nochebuena." —Ronely, Volunteer

"I'm going to the Everglades! I just got a new iPhone and am excited to take good-quality pictures. Plus, my best friend is coming to visit from out of town." —Ciara, Youth Engagement Specialist

"Turning up. I like Christmas because I spend time with my family. My family comes in from out of town. We just sit, talk, and chill. I guess that would be turning down. I love it." —Stephanie, Youth & Family Center Participant

"I can't wait to sing in the choir all over the city!" —Rocío, Family Engagement Specialist

"Being with my family. We get together, eat together, and celebrate the holidays tegether. I value that." —Tad, Peer Support Specialist.

"Gifts. But my favorite part is the spirit that comes over you, the vibe. I love the holiday spirit." —Neeko, Volunteer
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